Archived Story

Remember parking meters?

Published 9:04pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I read in the paper that South Bend’s downtown parking enforcement now has a new way of giving one a parking ticket for parking over the time limit.
It is a little hand-held electronic device that does the whole job and kicks out a ticket for one’s windshield.
Reading this rang a bell in old Charlie’s memory bank.
I have in my possession an old Dowagiac parking meter.
Remember those darn things on poles that stood in front of parking spots downtown?
You had to feed it with pennies or you would get a ticket if your meter ran out of time on you.
After the city decided to eliminate these meters, at one time they had them in a city auction with other discarded equipment.
I and my two boys attended this auction down at a city storage lot on S. Front Street, as I recall.
A man got the bid for a whole pallet of these meters.
I asked the gentleman if I could buy one from him and he said yes for a price of about half of the price he paid for the whole pallet of meters. When he found out how heavy they were and he had to carry them up to his car, I offered myself and my boys to help him if he would give us one.
So you see, this is how I’ve got an old Dowagiac city parking meter in my possession (actually, my pack-rat collection).
Not this last snowstorm, but the earlier one, and it mostly had melted and we once again had a lot of bare ground showing, did a lot of folks see the small “forlorn” snowman in the bare yard at the corner of Wayne and northwest Front?
1883: Saturday was the last day that two-cent stamps were required on bank checks as the law abolishing them went into effect on July 1.
1883: Niles now has telephonic communication with Buchanan, Berrien Springs, Mishawaka, Elkhart, Goshen, LaPorte and Michigan City (too bad Dowagiac wasn’t included, huh?).
Do you know that the region between Pine and Cook Lake nearby was a wild one once, and it is said that in the 1840s many horse thieves made their temporary quarters on the little piece of upland near Cook Lake.
In 1909, 16-year-old  Miss Georgia Penrod took the advice of her high school business teacher and accepted a job as stenographer-bookkeeper with the Dowagiac Automobile Co. formed by Frank Lake and Doras Neff, two local machinists.
Out in Pokagon Township stray dogs created problems in 1910-11.
Noah Toney and D.K. Byrnes each received $8 for a total of eight days of viewing sheep.
Also, 10 different farmers were compensated a total of $145 for sheep that had been killed by dogs.
1970: It was the year that the fate of our historic picturesque Main Street was about to come to an end, as the state highway department planned to widen it, as it was not up to standards for today’s traffic. Main Street was also M-40.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at

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